“You're talking about them as versions of themselves that no longer exist.” –This is Us

A simple way to grasp this concept is to think about someone you know with kids. The last time you saw them they were in elementary school. You meet them again, but now these same kids are in middle school. We may have said, or witnessed someone saying, “The last time I saw them they were only this high!” Or, “I just can’t believe how much they’ve changed!”

However, when it comes to changes we cannot see physically in others, as in inner transformative changes made or mental health progress, we often assume the person is exactly the same as the last time we saw them. This is entirely incorrect. When that assumption is made, we “short change” that person, and ourselves, in our relationship and experiences with them.

“Aha moments” come in flashes of time. Think of moments in your life where there was a profound shift inside yourself and/or your life. Some moments are inwardly beautiful and revelator, and permanent change is created. Other moments, sudden change may come knocking at your door forcing change. Some changes do not feel welcome, and others are like a breath of fresh air. Regardless, we are ever changing! Even when things feel as if they are, “moving slowly,” they are still moving.

There is uncertainty in all of our lives. Look at just the effect of COVID alone. No one has gone untouched. No one is exactly the same as they were before COVID — whether you were personally touched by it or not. Everyone was impacted in some way.

Could we open up space in our heart to give people the benefit of the doubt? To believe, even if our last experience with them wasn’t the best, that this experience could be different? Even if it’s a family member you’re living with, close friend, or someone you work with all the time, you still don’t know every thought or event that occurs in their lives in the in-between spaces.

If we judge others solely on the last version of them we knew, we could miss out on a wonderful heartfelt connection. What experiences might we have in relationship with them in the newest encounter? It’s ripe with possibilities as we “catch up” and show interest in the other, and changes in their lives since the last time. Let’s open our hearts in curiosity and anticipation of the version that’s now!

Cheri Thomas

Cheri works as a Peer Support Specialist for RI in Arizona. She has experienced loss and grief which has led her to write for the masses to bring voice to those in similar situations. Cheri possesses a deep passion to share with, encourage, and inspire others on what she calls the Journey of the Heart.